What I'm Reading:
The end of summer and the beginning of fall have been CRAZY! Nevertheless, I read 7 fiction books during the last two months.
Best beach read: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. I don't typically consider Liane's books "beach reads" but I would this one. I'm glad I read it, but it's not as good as her others.
Favorite book: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. I'm pretty sure this World War II novel will end up on my favorite books of 2016 list. SO good.
Book I couldn't put down: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. This book had shown up in enough blogs that I knew to expect "shocking twists." However, as an avid reader, I'm not always surprised by shocking twists. I was here. This book is well-written and once you start it, you won't want to put it down.
Best mystery: Damaged by Lisa Scottoline.
Most thought-provoking: When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel. This is a World War II novel, which I love. Specifically, it focuses on German internment camps in Florida. It's thought-provoking to think of POW camps being held here, in America.
I also read four non-fiction books: Good Christian Sex by Bromleigh McCleneghan (full review coming soon); Soul Bare edited by Cara Sexton (full review here); Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (not as good as her others, but worth reading); and H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle by Brad Lomenick (great leadership book).
We continue to read LOTS with Hope. This month our favorites were Curly's Friends by Phil Roxbee Cox (a great touch & feel book); Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara (such an important message!); and Let's Dance, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton (what can I say. This woman's a genius!)
Things I Love:
Trying new restaurants: Mom and Dad took us to a delightful new-to-us restaurant, Nonna Silvia's Trattoria & Pizzeria, for our anniversary. It was delicious! Afterward, we stopped at Norridge Park. Hope enjoyed playing in her mommy's old stomping grounds.
New experiences with family: The whole Bradbury family took Ken's riverboat cruise in August. The cruise took us up the river to Starved Rock, where we spent the night before heading back to Peoria the next day.
Seeing Uncle Ken in his element.
Reading with friends: Hope loves books anyway, but it was especially fun to see Nathaniel read to her.
Delivering buddy bags to our incoming freshmen: This continues to be one of the best things our student leaders do to welcome our incoming freshmen into our high school ministry.
Seeing Broadway royalty live: We went and saw War Paint at the Goodman specifically to be able to see Patti LuPone live on stage. She was excellent and the show was quite good.
Vacation! We took our first two-week vacation since 2009. We went to Washington State for a much needed getaway that began at Mt. St. Helens.
Mt. Rainier: We spent four full days exploring Mt. Rainier National Park and loved every minute of it. We also barely scratched the surface in terms of what's there to explore.
Naches Peak Trail: Quite possibly our favorite vacation hike. Our host at Alta Crystal Resort recommended it and it was spectacular. It offered great views of Mt. Rainier and the opportunity to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for a bit. Even Hope gave it a thumbs up.
Watching Hope discover hiking: Near the Longmire entrance to Mt. Rainier, we stopped and did a mile loop through the forest. A few steps into the loop, Hope started hollering. So we took her out of the pack and she proceeded to hike the rest of the trail with us. The trail offered no great views... But it just might be our most memorable of our trip.
Introducing Hope to the family: We spent a couple days with Jen's extended family in WA. It was so fun to introduce Hope to them, catch up, and go boating at Vantage.
Celebrating Jen's birthday, which we did in the middle of our vacation, specifically on the day we took the ferry across Lake Chelan to Stehekin, a remote village on the edge of the North Cascades. It was beautiful!
Seeing Kinky Boots: The day after we returned from vacation, we went and saw Kinky Boots. It was awesome!
Hanging out at the zoo with friends!
Running sound with Daddy for church.
The Children's Garden at the Arboretum: It's spectacularly designed for toddlers. Hope LOVES it (and so do her parents!)
FLY Kickoff! Our high school youth ministry is off to a great start! Here, they're opening a frozen t-shirt.
The CO mountains: We headed to Denver for cousin Mike's wedding. The day we arrived we headed to the foothills of the mountains to hike to Panoramic Point with Dave and Allison and cousin Zach. It was a great hike with spectacular views!
The Denver Zoo: We knew the key to surviving the wedding with a toddler would be wearing her out during the day. With that in mind, we headed to the Denver Zoo, which we thoroughly enjoyed. They had a great children's section featuring a water area where kids could build dams. Hope could have spent days there!
Mike's wedding: It was so fun to be with family for Mike and Kayla's wedding.
Sleepovers at Grandma's: The day after we returned from CO, Jen headed downstate to speak at the ELCA's Central Southern Illinois Professional Leader's Conference. She spent an hour talking about The Jesus Gap and another hour talking about student leadership. While Jen spoke, Hope spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa's in Jacksonville.
Evenings at the Children's Museum: We were thrilled to realize the Children's Museum is open late on Friday nights. Now that it gets dark EARLY, it's so helpful to have fun places to go with Hope at night.
Today I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I'm into. You can join the conversation here.